No matter how you slice it, the holiday season can be tough. Expectations often outweigh the reality, old family dynamics can re-emerge, and the focus on kids can be extremely painful for those experiencing their own fertility challenge.
However, you are not helpless under these circumstances. There are ways you can take care of yourself while getting through the season. Here are some suggestions for you to shape to your advantage and exercise some control during the holidays:
Opting Out. It really is OK to choose to skip a holiday with family. If you are comfortable, let your family host know why you can’t attend or only wish to attend for a limited time. Consider creating your own holiday ritual for this year with your partner. Plan to go somewhere nice together, something adults only like a country inn or B & B.
Timing is Everything. Consider arriving late and leaving early to limit the time you spend with family. Create an escape signal with your partner to indicate that you have had enough and feel it is time to leave. Discuss your feelings with your partner. The mere act of developing this signal together can help you feel closer to each other.
Take a Break. If you decide to attend, when uncomfortable child-centered moments arise, head for the kitchen to put together an appetizer or arrange a cookie platter. Volunteer to run out to purchase the last minute forgotten ingredient or to walk the dog. These can allow you to come and go throughout the day.
Don’t Forget the Boy Scout Motto. Be prepared for the inevitable question, “When are you going to have kids?” A few examples include:
Why, do you need a babysitting job?
We have our hands full with our 2 dogs and 3 cats.
We’ve opted for celibacy.
Or, you could say, It’s a difficult subject for us and don’t wish to talk about it.
Give a Little Piece of Your Heart. Volunteer to help those less fortunate (e.g., at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen). This helps you give to others and gives you a nice warm feeling about yourself, as well.
And finally, Take Your Pen. As one of my clients suggested to me, everything is grist for the humor mill. Observe and bring home some tidbits. See if you can see the crazy, funny, even ludicrous snippets of family interactions at holiday gatherings. Seinfeld made millions off of his observations!
Good luck and remember, January 1st gives you new hope for the New Year.